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By: Nikhil Jayakumar Menon
Covering the Heights
It's not always, that a dialogue in a movie inspires you so much to do something. That's the magic which "Charlie" was able to create throughout Kerala. A mountain not so famous before that, the second highest peak (2640m) of the western Ghats - Meeshapulimala came into the limelight all of a sudden. The outburst of people coming to on to the peak even brought out several restrictions by the Kerala Forest Department. So, if you want to go there, you need to go via the package that KFDC provides. The thrill starts the moment you see the package, until you go there, meet the forest rangers and hear from them that you need to walk an enthralling 8 km (need to climb 9 hills) to reach on the top of Meeshapulimala. So, me and my friend, Sijo, booked a tent through the package and set off on our motorcycles. We reached there at about 6 PM. The green tents beautifully camaflouged between the trees gave us a sense os satisfaction.
We met the forest ranger. He informed us that, we can watch the sunset at a hill nearby. So we rested our bags inside the tent and climbed the hill to get a glimpse of the sun. But sadly, we were late. We reported back to him. He said that theres nothing much to do for the night other than the dinner and the sleep. So we decided to walk around a little bit. The weather began to get chillier as time passed. By 9 PM, when we had our dinner, the temperature was around 6 degree Celcius. The ranger informed us that the temperature might go as low as 3 degree at night. So, we headed straight to our tents after the dinner. We were supposed to leave the camp and head for trekking by 9 AM. The only relief from the cold was the pack of cigarettes that we resisted to take during the morning bike ride. As the temperature dropped further, we eased into our tent and went to sleep.
Day 02 : The thrill of trekking had taken away some of my sleep, and i woke up by 6.30 am. I rested my hope of bathing as i touched the freezing water. There were about 30 people, along with us for the trek. I woke my friend up and packed our belongings and had the breakfast by 8.30. We were all set for the trek. The Forest Ranger came up to the whole 30 of us to give us a few guidelines. Thats when we realised that, we could be arriving back from the hills only by 6 or 7 PM. Its diffcult to ride the motorcycle through the fog if it gets dark, especially with a 2 KM complete off roading downhill. So our aim was to reach back atleast by 5 PM so that we can reach back Munnar town before the dark.
We started off the trek by 9 AM. There were two routes to the first destination, i.e, Rhodovalley. The place has a cottage, managed by KFDC. The first route was a mud path, through which jeeps can go. The other one is a shorted route through the forest cover. We took the route through forest cover. Its a 4 KM walk to the Rhodovalley.
More than the destination, it is always the journey that matters. The walk presented us with a whole new varities of flowers, trees, grasses & rocks. The nature looked more beautiful, than ever. The tiring walk, much to climb, little to run down made most of us quench for breath. By the time we reached the Rhodovalley, many of us were lying flat on the ground. Around 10 people decided not to climb further. They decided to wait at Rhodovalley . The rest of us continued the long walk to reach our next destination, The shooting point. The shooting point has witnessed many indian movies being made there. As we reached the shooting point, the time had already hit 1 PM.
Our guide asked us to keep moving, as there were many more hills for us to climb to reach Meeshapulimala. A total of 9 hills need to be climbed to reach our destination. We kept looking forr the Nilgiri tahr and any sight of 'neelakurinji' in our path. But we were left unlucky. The only thing we were able to see was the 'Green Vine Snake'. The walk had really slowed us down, few of our teamates, headed by my friend Sijo were running through the path. But most of us, including me took a break every 5 minutes to climb up the hills. The sun had taken away the coolness. All we were looking for is the stream of water to quench our thirst. Everytime we think of quitting, the thought of destination kept us on our feet. Infront of me was the final peak I needed to climb. It was Meeshapulimala. Sijo stood on top of the hill asking me to run up fast. With much pain, I carried my heavy body onto the top of the hill. I have never ever been much more satisfied. All the walk, all tiredness, everything seemed to fade away as the clouds floated infront of me like a stream of river. Nature is the most magnificient thing. It gives us everything to be happy about. Its adventures like these that reminds us about conserving the nature and protecting the exotic varities of flora and fauna.
Lunch never tasted better. It was time to head back to base camp. The time was almost 2.30 PM. We decided to head back to Rhodovalley and take a jeep back to the base camp. It was a different route this time. The guide gave us the option of going back the same route or taking the new route, which was shorter. We took the shorter route, 5 of us decided to speed across the grass and take the jeep as soon as possible. We reached back Rhodovalley by 5 PM and took the jeep to reach back to the camp by 6 PM. Luckily, we managed to take our Enfields and get past the fog before it got dark. We wasted no time, and sped back from munnar to reach Thrissur by 12 AM.